East Broad Top Railroad Begins New Season
by Deane Mellander and Chris Coleman
Photos by Deane Mellander except as noted
Originally published in the
Timber Transfer, Vol. 15, No. 4, Spring 1999
In this era of records and statistics, few tourist steam railroads can match the longevity of the East Broad Top. For 39 straight years, the EBT has ferried thousands upon thousands of riders along the valley of the Aughwick. Perhaps only the Durango and Silverton and Strasburg railroads can boast longer operating records. The EBT renewed its record on June 5, when No. 14 went back in harness once again. About 35 FEBT members were on hand to mark the occasion. Vagel Keller, Vice President-Member Services, provided registration materials. We had a couple of non-members also register, which will hopefully lead to their joining FEBT.
After the first train of the day returned to Orbisonia depot, General Manager Stanley Hall led a group on a tour of the shops. Hope was expressed that the recently-announced approval of a TEA-21 grant from the state will be followed by the necessary future steps, leading to the start of stabilization of the Rockhill shop complex. After the last train arrived, members who wished assembled for a walking tour of Saltillo, led by FEBT President Hank Inman.
The group then reassembled in the Old Post Office in Robertsdale. A grill was produced, and an impromptu barbeque ensued. This was followed by a presentation by Vagel Keller on the "Rural Rust Belt", being a history of the iron industry in south-central Pennsylvania. Vagel also had some general railroad interest slides for those who wished to stay after the formal presentation. The photo of 13 year old Vagel riding the EBT, with a MUCH younger Stanley Hall as conductor, was priceless.
Sunday began with a walking tour of the Rockhill yard, led by Chris Coleman. The tour ended with a visit to the water reservoir ponds back behind the coal dock. Most of the remaining attendees seemed to be on the second train of the day. Noted was the replacement of the wicker furniture in the "Orbisonia" with leather office-type chairs and a new chaise.
It was an excellent outing. We look forward to getting together again at the Reunion in October.